I had planned on getting this article out last week, but I was unfortunately delayed, so you all have my apologies. This is the second tournament report for a pair of excellent events I attended on January 2nd which were hosted by Brandon. In my last post, I discussed the first tournament where my poor Bane Mummies didn’t fair so well despite their excellent cell phone plans. For this tournament, I took a Follower of Set vote deck based on corrupting titled vampires and changing their votes. I call the deck Business as Usual: Corrupt Politicians. Let’s take a look!
How does the deck win?
Like all political decks, this deck wins by calling and passing damaging referendums, but since the deck is based around the Followers of Set, it gains access to Reckless Agitation. Political actions that damage your prey for 5 are pretty sweet even though they can quickly make you look like the table threat. The other thing that is unique about this deck is how it ends up passing votes. The deck can’t rely on it’s titled vampires because only Neferu has votes (and she only has 2), and it can only partially rely on temporary votes (the deck has Ferraille as well as a few Awe and Bewitching Orations). Instead votes are passed through a combination of Velvet Tongue (which put corruption counters on a vampire who casts votes), and Neferu‘s ability to change the votes of a vampire with corruption tokens. And once a few key titled vampires have corruption tokens, Velvet Tongue can be used at superior to prevent vampires with corruption tokens from voting. Yup, it’s a combo deck (did you expect anything else from me?). The other ousting strategy is delivering some medium sized bleeds powered by Heart of the City.
How does the deck survive?
Like many Follower of Set decks, this deck will almost never block anything, and basically has no access to bleed bounce (yes, there is one Lost in Translation in there as a surprise, but I have yet to use it). The deck instead attempt to survive on bloat alone. It should be able to generate quite a lot of pool using The Eternals of Sirius, Voter Captivation, Villein, and Ancient Influence. The deck does include Archon Investigation, which should hopefully slow down stealth bleed decks. Combat defense is limited to Serpent’s Numbing Kiss (which doesn’t stick if the opponent plays Psyche!, turns out) and Secure Haven, which might be enough for a lot of tournament environments, but I think the deck really should have had a bit more.
What changes would I make?
As you will see, my first game strongly suggested that there are too many master cards in the deck, and that it needs some sort of card flushing mechanism like Dreams of the Sphinx. My second game indicates that there might not be enough cards in general, so I’m tempted to bump it up to 70-75 cards. Finally, the secondary ousting plan just isn’t strong enough. The deck needs need a more solid plan B than a pair of Heart of the City.
Sadly, I haven’t really had a chance to play VTES much in the last few months. I’ve been pretty busy, and my playgroup hasn’t been able to meet as regularly as we would all like. As a result, I had played this deck one, and it went through a number of significant changes since then. I think that this deck (well… all decks really) could have benefited from some decent play testing before the tournament. That said, I was quite pleased with the deck – passing referendums can sometimes boring in VTES, and I enjoyed the process of jumping through interesting hoops to get things passed. Guess that means I should put together a Daughters of Cacophony voting deck….
Game 1: Brett (Corrupt Politicians) -> David A (Daughters Vote) -> Kenneth (Cybel Multi-Master Phase) -> Eric H (group 1+2 Toreador toolbox)
I didn’t see any of my crypt acceleration until the very end of the game, which meant that I had to pull out Neferu the old fashioned way – over three whole turns. David A quickly influenced out several small Daughters of Cacophony, Kenneth played Anthelios and influenced out Cybel; and Eric H brought out Kallista, Master Sculptor and Felicia Mostrom. At this point, every vampire on the table was female, so I decided to continue the trend by influencing Renenet rather than Nakhthorheb (gender is likely a stupid reason to influence one vampire over another…). The theme is broken when Eric H brings out Dorian Strack. David A and I very quickly discover how difficult our decks are going to be together. Madrigal provides blood to those who vote with the vampire who played it, and burns blood on vampires who vote in opposition to the vampire who played it. Normally that’s all pretty simple, but when Neferu can change the way your votes are cast (assuming you cast them), it all becomes a lot more complicated. Every referendum he called involved specifying exactly where votes were coming from and which vampires were abstaining in fear of being corrupted. As a result, most referendums during the game were passed or failed by 1 or 2 votes. We start referring to the game as Math: the Eternal Struggle, or Vampire: the Eternal Calculation.
Kenneth had a very rough start – his deck needed time to set up, and David A didn’t give him any breathing room. Most of David A’s turns involved a flurry of votes and bleeds in rapid succession. When one of his Daughters got low on blood, her last action would just be a Concert Tour, allowing her to fill up next turn. I did managed to banish Yseult when she was empty with a Concert Tour, but even that didn’t slow David A down much. In a final bid to gain pool, Kenneth tried to call Reins of Power, but it was DI‘d by Eric H. Kenneth was ousted shortly thereafter. Eric H had mostly been bleeding me for 1 and tooling up with guns, which gave me the chance to pass a Reckless Agitation and a few KRCs, but with only two minions out, I just wasn’t dealing enough pool damage to David A, who really started chewing away at Eric H’s pool.
By the time Eric H was ousted, I was sitting pretty comfortably at ~13 pool, but my hand had nothing but stealth and master cards. I spent several turns bleeding for 1 with each minion, praying to be blocked so that I could cycle my stealth. Each turn I played one master card, and cycled away another, only to draw more stealth and more masters. The only thing that stretched the game out is that I had mostly shut down David A’s voting ability. One turn he called four referendums, and I managed to fail three of them. Of course, once David A switched tactics and started bleeding me, I was a goner. Result: David A GW + 4 VP.
Game 2: David CK (Weenie Potence) -> Brandon (Assamite dominate bleed) -> Eric S (Oesbo toolbox) -> Brett (Corrupt Politicians)
In game 1, Brandon was David CK’s predator, and he immediately warned me that we should both expect lots of Increased Strength and Thrown Gates. Our concern quickly turned to panic as Eric S played a first turn Smiling Jack, and brought out his own Potence weenie. I have no crypt acceleration so I slowly bring out Neferu while Brandon digs through is crypt for his star vampire (Amaravati), meaning that we both take a fair bit of pool damage from Smiling Jack. Brandon plays Pentex backwards to stop David CK’s only minion with superior Potence. Then he and David CK both try to sweet talk Eric S into helping them eliminate the other, with Brandon pledging to do nothing in the game until David CK was eliminated. Eric S is eventually convinced and he spends his turn tooling up and he even removes his own Smiling Jack. Brandon and I breath a great sigh of relief.
David CK has both of his weenie Potence minions try to remove the Pentex. Amaravati is out by now, and is able to block both attempts, although he drops down to 1 blood for his trouble. Brandon immediately rectifies this problem by playing Giant’s Blood on Amaravati. Eric S plays Powerbase: Luanda and rushes Neferu with two different minions, both of whom go to long range and throw sewer lids at her. I influence out Nakhthorheb using Eternals of Sirius, but all of his early actions get blocked by Eric S, which leaves Nakhthorheb very low on blood. David CK continues in his relentless attempts to remove Pentex, and Brandon continues to block. David CK seems to be out of combat cards for the moment, and Amaravati survives. Brandon plays Yorba Shrine, giving him some assurance of not being rushed, and he steals the Powerbase from Eric S to prevent him to taking out Neferu.
Eric takes back his Powerbase, and tries to break Pentex which is also blocked by Brandon. My turn involves perhaps the single most important I made all game: placing Secure Haven on Neferu. Brandon is finally out of blocks, and David CK is able to remove his Pentex with only 6 attempts in total. He uses his new minion to rush me. Because Neferu is now beyond his reach, he takes his rage out on my newly influenced Renenet and remove all the blood from her. Brandon’s deck finally reveals what it’s master plan is as he recruits Deviki Prasanta, which will allow him to get a free Dominate skill card every turn. Eric rushes Renenet, and puts her into torpor with a Thrown Sewer Lid. I call Ancient Influence which gives Brandon and I pool (5 for me, 3 for him), and gives David CK and Eric S nothing. Brandon bleeds heavily using his new found Dominate powers, and starts to do some real damage. I lunge with a Reckless Agitation, KRC, and a bleed, but David CK survives with 2 pool. He rushes Nakhthorheb, and puts him into torpor, but even that doesn’t stop me from ousting next turn.
I rescue Nakhthorheb, have him hunt and then call a vote to give him a few more blood with a Voter Captivation. Brandon bleeds Eric heavily, bringing him down to 6. Eric rushes Nakhthorheb and puts him back into torpor. At this point, I have one minion and Brandon is at 4 pool – just outside of KRC range. And I know that we are close to timing out. After a lengthy pause, I end up rescuing Nakhthorheb, having him hunt, and call Reins of Power. Since Brandon knows this vote will oust him, he selects no minion, giving Eric S with 6 pool. Eric S has only one final turn before we time out, which was actually pretty good for me – my library was down to 4 cards, and the only vote I still had was a Banishment. Result: Brett GW + 2.5VP, Eric 0.5VP.
Finals: Rick (Lasombra Royalty Toolbox) -> David A (Daughters Vote) -> David CK (Weenie Potence) -> Mark (Thetmes Rush) -> Brett (Corrupt Politicians)
This was a very complicated game – there were three dedicated vote decks at the table, two of which relied on vote shenanigans. Plus Mark’s star vampire had 2 votes. As a result, this was a very heated game with a lot of shouting and jockeying for political advantage. I love the fact that VTES is social, and it’s one of the major draws of the game to me, but when you have five people (well, four, because I refuse to argue like that) shouting that player X is a fool and is just handing the game to player Y, I find myself wishing that I was far, far away. As a result, this was not a fun game for me. I’m really not eager to revisit this game, but I’ll present the bare bones out of respect to Rick (spoiler alert – he wins! Congratulations Rick!).
I had no idea that I had earned a spot at the finals, so while people were deciding the seating order, I started putting together a casual game. As a result, I didn’t get to see anybody decide where to sit (I suppose I was bottom seed). But I did hear that Rick was top seed, and he decided to put his deck as far away from the combat decks as possible. Turns out that was a pretty good decision, especially since he wasn’t totally dependent on calling votes – he figured that if David A and I shut down his votes he could just fall back on Dominate bleed. A solid plan, and I think that his excellent choice of seating was a major contributor to his success. It take a lot of skill to plan out your seating, and Rick figured it out perfectly.
The early game started quite well for me – a first turn Eternals of Sirius let me bring out Neferu on turn 1, and she got a chance to pass a Reckless Agitation before Rick or Mark even had a minion ready. Another Eternals of Sirius let me power out Nakhthorheb and eventually Renenet. David A was running into a lot of problems – every one of his Daughters was being rushed and dunked in turn by David CK who left Mark alone for most of the game, and focused on grinding the Daughters into paste. Rick gets an archbishop onto the table, and immediately takes control of the votes thanks to Powerbase: Madrid. Many votes are called, and much shouting ensues. Most of them are voted down or Delaying Tactics is played. Once Mark gets Thetmes up, he starts rushing Neferu (who admittedly is causing all kinds of problems for the vote decks), and dunks her repeatedly. Just after I influence out Renenet, a bleed of 1 from David CK is bounced by Mark to me, Renenet blocks and is immediately put into torpor. I decide that David CK needs to be removed – his contributions to the game had been a few bleeds of 1 on Mark, he made a crater out of David A’s field, and now had attacked me cross table. I call an automatically passing Reckless Agitation (thanks to David A’s Charming Lobby), and I negotiate a KRC both against David CK, which allows David A to oust him with the one Daughter who had managed to rescue herself.
But with so few minions, David A quickly falls prey to Rick’s bleeds (admittedly helped by my Heart of the City powered bleeds which kept being bounced to David A), leaving just three of us. Rick backrushes Nakhthorheb (via Political Struggle) and Disarms him. Between this and Mark’s aggravated damage, there isn’t a lot my minions can do. Rick influences out a third titled Lasombra, and it’s all downhill from here. Mark is quickly overwhelmed, and with nearly 30 minutes still on the clock, I ask if Rick really wants to bleed me out when I have no minions in play. He graciously accepts my concession and goes on to win his first tournament. You can check out his excellent deck here. Congratulations! Result: Rick GW + 5VP.
Just as a reminder, ICLee has also written a fantastic report for both tournaments, and I highly suggest that you check it out. Sadly, we never played a game together all day, so you can’t see the same game from two different view points.
Until next time, may your bleeds never be bounced, and all your games be civil,